About Utah: Billions spent for porn sad loss to society

Published: Sunday, Nov. 7 2010 12:13 a.m. MDT

ST. GEORGE — The numbers are as shocking as they are incomprehensible — $3 million spent every second, $13 billion spent every year. And that's just in America. Around the world the number is nearly $100 billion.

And for what? NFL season tickets? National health care? Nuclear arsenals? Golf gear? Women's shoes?

None of the above.

Porn.

Every year America spends $13.4 billion and the world spends $96.7 billion on its porn habit.

Pamela Atkinson isn't a materialistic person. But the noted longtime advocate for the homeless and the hungry audibly sighs when she recites the above figures.

"Do you know how many times I look at that (amount) and think how many affordable housing units and how much food that would buy?" she says.

Pamela is at the Dixie Center on a Saturday morning greeting attendees at the Utah Coalition Against Pornography (UCAP) fall convention in southern Utah.

It's 8 in the morning, the dawning of a beautiful weekend day with high temperatures forecast in the mid-70s — a perfect day to be outside — and already hundreds of people are filing into the convention center.

By the time Attorney General Mark Shurtleff gives his kickoff keynote address at 9 a.m., a thousand people are registered and in their seats.

"Zero of them have to be here," observes Janet Hill, who, like Pamela, serves on the UCAP board.

They're here, she says, because they want to be. They're relatives of someone with a porn problem, they're therapists or teachers, they're parents, they're spouses, they're addicts themselves.

"They are people looking for hope," sums up Atkinson.

Whatever their various individual purposes, it's an impressive group collectively, filling up a ballroom and giving up a morning for the cause — an army marching against pornography.

But it's nothing compared to the size of the opposition.

UCAP is full of numbers. Here are some more: There are 372 million pornographic Web pages on the Internet … visits to these pages comprise 25 percent of all search engine requests … and that doesn't even count the 11,000 adult movies that are produced each year (Hollywood produces about 600 first-run movies annually).

And where's the market for those 11,000 movies? Well, half of all hotel guests order pornographic movies in the privacy of their rooms … that accounts for 70 percent of total hotel in-room revenue. Sales of bottled water and bags of cashews pale to nothingness in comparison.

These numbers don't come just from Amsterdam or Bangkok or Las Vegas. The UCAP people are quick to point out that Utah has the highest percentage of Internet users in America who type "sex" or "pornography" in the search engine.

That statistic prompts another statistic from Atkinson: "83 percent of sex offenders in jail started off with simple pornography."

Like any other addictive substance, no one knows the level of their tolerance, or their intolerance, until they get started.

The conference foyer is filled with booths offering ways to avoid addiction and ways to recover from addiction: fences at the top of the hill and ambulances at the bottom, as it were.

In one booth, the S.A. Lifeline Foundation (www.salifeline.org) offers videos and books to break the sex addiction habit. Just around the corner, a new company out of Mesa, Ariz., called Pandora's Hope (www.pandorashope.com) sells Internet filtering routers.

Eric Vance, one of the developers of the product, proudly shows off the newest bullet in the anti-pornography armament.

"This will protect every device in your home," he promises.

The cost is $175 for the router and a $20 yearly subscription to keep continually upgraded.

"Sales are good," Eric says optimistically. "We've already sold one today."

A small number, relatively, but definitely a step in the right direction.

Lee Benson's column runs Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Please send e-mail to benson@desnews.com.

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS